British Customs Japanese Style by Heiwa Motorcycle

Matchless custom by Heiwa Motorcycle of Japan

Matchless custom by Heiwa Motorcycle of Japan

We've had a series of articles on Japanese custom shops with their own unique style, shops like Brat Style, Ritmo Sereno and Gravel Crew to name a few, but their focus is usually more Japanese, sometimes European, with BMWs, but very few British bikes in their collections. This shop, Heiwa Motorcycle, has all of the usual models, but they've done a lot of old British classics, too.

AJS custom by Heiwa Motorcycle of Japan

AJS custom by Heiwa Motorcycle of Japan

Over in the US, when you see a vintage Matchless or AJS or even an old Norton, there's a premium for authenticity and originality, the closer to factory the better. Sure, every bike ever made has been chopped or butchered to some extent, but very well done customs in some segments are much harder to find. Heiwa Motorcycle has done quite a few old Brits and it proves the factory look isn't the only option and these old bikes offer a nice variation from the same machines done by everyone else in every possible way.

Norton custom by Heiwa Motorcycle of Japan

Norton custom by Heiwa Motorcycle of Japan

There's nothing extreme or over the top, no particular modification that breaks new ground, just a series of bikes that show a good eye for detail and a little different direction than the usual treatment of these British oldies. What catches my eye are the clean lines and mechanical simplicity, nothing hidden, just an engine and all of the basics.

It's not a look for everyone and if you're a stickler for originality, you'll turn up your nose at these, but it's nice to know not everyone thinks an old bike has be a pristine original. Cool.

Link: Heiwa Motorcycle


  1. Rich says

    Thanks for posting this. These are inspiring in their simplicity and cohesiveness. I think they’re beautiful.

  2. B50 Jim says

    Very nice work! Purity be damned — if you want a 100-point restoration, you can shell out tens of thousands for an old AJS or Norton that has been restored way beyond its original condition. Those old bikes were made to be ridden, and if outfits like Heiwa want to put a funky English engine (preferably a thumper!) into a custom frame that reflects the pure design of the original but won’t crack under vibration, more power to them. Love the detail work; everywhere you look there’s something to delight the eye. I want to see a Goldie!

    They also have done some nice Yamaha XS650s.

  3. Kevin says

    Pretty neat. The simplicity was the first thing I noticed. I really like that Norton. I like how open the bikes are, not a single piece of bodywork.

  4. B50 Jim says

    They have a 1920s vibe — on the Norton the oil bag forms the only “bodywork” and it’s a functional piece. These bikes have no “style” but that’s the style in itself. Also, look closer and you’ll see numerous small areas where Heiwa added style, be it a part drilled for lightness or a nicely sculpted casting. They’re pure motorcycles but works of art at the same time; think Crocker. And you can ride them — what’s not to like?

  5. todd says

    If you think about it, the bikes aren’t really customized, these are custom bikes. No original parts are modified, everything looks like a “one-off” or purpose built part. If you wanted, you could unbolt the motor and slot it into an original, unmolested chassis. No harm done.

    that said, when customizing a bike, I like to improve them – if possible. The impression I get from these is that practicality and performance made way for style. But I guess there’s a limit to how much you can improve a Matchless G80S trying to turn it into a GSXR.


    • Marvin says

      +1 for the norton it looks to have a slightly higher seat than the other two as well as rear suspension. They are all good looking but that looks like it could be fun as well.

  6. says

    I like all three bikes shown, but especially the AJS.
    Although I’d need a bit more seat to cushion my ancient bony bottom from the hardtail frame.

  7. JasonB says

    Nothing less than mechanical sculpture. Minimalist, sensitive, carefully considered, artfully crafted. Taking them in slowly like a cup of miso soup, I feel a zen-like sense of calm and tranquility washing over me…

  8. joe says

    Top marks for these as great works of art,but as far as rideability? Hopeless ,maybe 2 or 3 miles .

  9. Scotduke says

    The Norton has rear suspension and the ergonomics don’t look too bad – it’d suit a shorter rider better tho. The front brake looks like a 70s period item from a Honda or Suzuki and should be reasonably functional, certainly enough for the motor’s output. The reliability will depend on how well the motor’s been put together but I reckon you could cover more than 2-3 miles on it assuming that the engine’s rebuilt properly.

  10. Klaus says

    I like the looks – but wonder about the size rims. Everything got less and smaller, the tank, handle bars, headlight aso, maybe that makes the wheels look a bit out of proportion to me. If you look just at the forks the wheel is too big, the rubber balloon-like. Maybe it’s the fashion, or the look they’re after, but personally I’d prefer smaller rims and less rubber.
    But that’s me – nitpicking on some very impressive builds…

    • todd says

      it’s not just you. I imagine there is little use for modern, low profile rubber on these bikes especially when the goal isn’t increased performance. Rather it feels as though they are using the large wheels and tires to make the rest of the bike look small – plus give it that “old-school” credential that makes it seem like you dug it out of an old barn.


  11. Klaus says

    They wouldn’t have to be 17ers, but these rims look like 21″ front and rear – or what is your guess? 19ers would do fine, IMO.
    These huge donuts make the bike – sorry – look a bit gOOfy.